A second community meeting was held last night at the Beaumaris High School site, where it was hoped that the Minister for Education, The Hon James Merlino MP, or his representative could attend and provide clarity on this project. The removal of at least 229 trees is set to begin on Monday morning, 24/10/16.
Unfortunately the Minister, his office, the Department of Education and the office of the Premier Daniel Andrews MP, still refuse to respond to our concerns.
As it stands the available information about the proposed for Beaumaris Secondary College (which is a much sought after community asset) is a high-level and conceptual Master Plan prepared by Clarke Hopkins Clarke.
This plan shows many areas of greenery and vegetation, however there is no detail as to whether it is existing and retained vegetation or proposed. The existing vegetation is over 60 years old and provides a significant canopy, ecological link and iconic symbolism of the natural suburban environment of Beaumaris.
The justification provided by the Victorian School Building Authority for tree removal is that they sit within proposed building footprints or have tree root zones that extend within these footprints.
My professional assessment as a Registered Landscape Architect with the AILA is that while much of the remnant tea-tree and heathland to the south of the site cannot remain within this proposal, many of the existing canopy trees can be kept.
The Australian Standard AS4970-2009 ‘Protection of Trees on Development Sites’ provides guidance for retention of trees. A tree protection zone is defined by a radius of 12 times the trunk diameter (1.4m above ground). Construction or excavation can usually occur within up to 10% of that zone without affecting the trees health and viability.
Construction can also occur within greater than 10% of that zone, as long as root sensitive construction measures are taken. This includes building footings and permeable pavement.
To that end, the VSBA’s statement that the root zones of these trees will be adversely affected is incorrect and appears a short cut to providing a moon scaped site.
However, without any response from the Minister, Premier, Department of Education or their offices, we are in the dark as to which trees are set for removal.
Our local member, Mr Murray Thompson MP has released this statement and the community is rallying for a protest on site at 6.45am on Monday 24/10/16 to bring some sense and clarity to this issue.
If you feel strongly about the protection of our natural environment then please support this cause and spread the word.